HAYES: In terms of the revelations that we’ve gotten so far, and they fall into a number of different categories, but I do want to ask you, before I let you go, there’s been some push back on the reporting, particularly about the PRISM program, and there’s another program codenamed BLARNEY, that come from those power point slides that use the phrase directly from the servers, direct access, and there was push back by the tech companies who are listed in those slides saying we didn’t give any direct access.
And there’s some question, I think, about what exactly that phrase means or could mean. And I just want you to clarify your best understanding of what the reality is about the nexus between how the NSA is working with these private tech companies.
Now, to Hayes's credit, this is exactly the question to ask. Greenwald has changed his story on a number of occasions prior to last night's interview, and the factual component of his story doesn't hold up to scrutiny. Greenwald's response is telling:
GREENWALD: Sure. We’ve published four stories so far. The only one about which there has been any questions raised is the one that the Washington — the only one the Washington Post also published which is the PRISM story.
Again, that's not true. The first story, the Verizon carrier story, has also been disputed in the above link, and for good reason. Bob Cesca and Chez Pazienza have been all over Greenwald on this. It's a pattern of walk-backs.
Our story was written differently than the way the Post wrote theirs, which is why they’ve had to walk back theirs. Our story was the following: we have documents, a document, from the NSA that very clearly claims that they are collecting directly from the servers of these internet giants. That’s the exact language that this document used. We went to those internet companies before publishing and asked them, and they denied it, and we put into the story very prominently that they denied it.
Our story is that there is a discrepancy between the relationship that these, that the private sector and the government has, in terms of what the NSA claims and what the technology companies claim.
Except the real issue is with what Greenwald claims both sides are saying. And he's just admitted that there's issues with it, so now he's changing his story (which is now "well, at least I'm not the WaPo!")
What is definitely true, and follow-up reporting by the Times has proven this, is that there have been all kinds of negotiations about back door access. They have agreements in all sorts of ways to share data with the government. I don’t think anybody knows at this point exactly what the nature of those arrangements are and the reason we published our story and reason we presented it as this discrepancy is precisely because, whatever the tech companies and the government are doing, in terms of turning over data to the government, should be done in public.
So, he admits that he doesn't have details or evidence on these "data sharing programs" but it sure as hell doesn't stop him from rampant speculation on what those programs are because Greenwald has decided that they are wrong, so he's going to report on them.
That's not reporting. That's blogging.
We should know what agreements they’ve reached. We should know what the government has asked for and what they’re negotiating with now, in terms of access. What we do know for sure, is that the government has a program that targets the communication over these companies, that huge numbers of people around the world use to communicate with one another, and we think there should be accountability and transparency for whatever those exact agreements are.
That's Greenwald's opinion. And he's pushing it as fact now, substituting umbrage for details. "We don't know but they should tell us!" is a fine opinion to have, but it doesn't make Greenwald's account factual when he doesn't know the facts. He's telling us what he thinks should happen. Whether you agree with him or not, that's not reporting. So when he's writing articles for the Guardian now as a reporter, and not doing any reporting, there's a problem.
Also a problem is Spencer Ackerman,who is a national security reporter, and who did have a reporting gig at Wired's Danger Room for years, is Greenwald's editor at the Guardian. He's not much of an editor, apparently.
Finally, Chris Hayes refused to call Greenwald out after that nonsense. Doesn't do much for his credibility, either.
As a final note, Greenwald keeps saying the story's not about him, it's about the NSA and our "national security state" but...the story keeps being about him. Funny how that works.